Finding solace through basketball


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Sophomore Victoria Lopez is finishing her final season as a women’s basketball player at Contra Costa College. As one of the longest-tenured players on the current team, she is one of the few players to be here for all three of coach Vince Shaw’s years as coach.

By Efrain Valdez, Sports Editor

Growing pains that come with becoming an adult can come in many different shapes and sizes.

For some people, it takes a comfortable situation for them to succeed. But for others their best path to success could be to take the most difficult road.

An argument can be made that people who encounter the harder road to success are the ones who become the most successful people.

For Comet guard and third-year sophomore Victoria Lopez, taking the harder road is what brings her success on and off the court. Her dedication to the sport of basketball, her team and education, is shown by the simple fact that she has commuted between Contra Costa College and her hometown of Vacaville for the past three years.

“The whole point of me coming to Richmond was to get away from a lot of people out where I grew up,” Lopez said.

She took this opportunity to become more independent and learn what life is really about. Lopez spoke about how alone she felt at times by being away from her family because of her heavy schedule. Because of basketball practice, she has to take classes in the morning and evening. The sophomore believes this whole struggle was about growing into an adult. “I didn’t have my parents around the corner if I needed anything. I had to do everything on my own out here.

Coming to Richmond and seeing how intense the environment is in this city, compared to where I’m from, was something that helped me grow up,” she said.

Women’s basketball coach Vince Shaw said he has known Lopez since she was in high school so seeing her turn into the young woman she is today is refreshing. “It’s good to see them grow up like that. Even when she was a kid and had her ups and downs she always kept moving forward,” Shaw said.

Lopez faced many ups and downs in life and on the court. She was cut from a team once, broke her leg and re-injured it. “When I was out with my injury, I was able to see basketball from a different perspective,” she said. “I was starting to see what my coaches actually meant when they would coach me during games.”

For Lopez, one of her biggest off-court difficulties was when she found out the day of her high school graduation that she may not have enough units to actually graduate.

“I’m just that kind of person that just keeps going no matter what. I will keep trying something until I get it right. That’s just how I am,” she said.

Now she plans on attending a four-year university in the 2019 fall semester to pursue a degree in criminal justice. Freshman teammate Dzeneta Husic said that she appreciates having Lopez because she has provided leadership. “During our game against Los Medanos College last week, she helped the team in the last few minutes by being confident enough to drive down the lane and help us get a bucket to win the game,” she said.

Shaw said that he thinks her personal growth and leadership can be attributed to her work ethic. “It all kind of happened organically for her (Lopez). She just stepped up and took the role. I’m really proud of her,” he said. Lopez gives Shaw a ton of credit for helping her succeed. She credits him for bringing her to play at CCC and allowing her to grow as a player. “

He knew how I needed to be coached and I felt comfortable playing for him,” she said.

Husic said that Lopez has helped the freshman take on leadership roles. “She’s been someone that wants us to be more confident when taking our shots,” she said. Lopez said that CCC has been the place that allowed her to succeed. “I was able to learn that there are more things to life than being a part of drama. CCC made me stronger.”